Emotion is a strange thing. It can change in an instant. You could be happy for a moment, then one simple word could change the way you feel. My emotion that day was a wreck. One minute I was out and about with my two favorite boys, never expecting anything to change. The next minute I was crying in the arms of my brother's best friend. It was foolish of me really, to think that nothing would ever change. That was a child's way of thinking.
A few days passed. I couldn't look at Ben. We'd pass in our small wooden hallways, and I'd hide my face. Every time I turned my head away, I could hear Ben's heart breaking. "Talk to me. Communicate with me," he kept pleading. But I couldn't. I couldn't find the words to express my feelings. So instead of talking, I hid. I hid in the attic, in the garden, or in the forest.
The birds kept me company as I sat in the still and quiet forest. Today, I was feeling especially sad. My mind raced wildly like horses in an open field. I'm losing my brother. I'm losing my brother. The same thought flooded my mind, causing me to drown helplessly in my own thoughts until I could take it no longer. Wet sobs overtook me. I gasped for air as salty tears stained my cheeks. I buried my face in my hands, muffling the sound of my hysterical crying. I tried to stop the tears. I wanted them to go away, I wanted to be tough. But with every effort to stop my sobs, I only made it worse. My hoarse screams echoed through the forest, causing the birds to flee. I realized that no physical pain could ever hurt worse than emotional pain. Physical pain is like a small, schoolboy fight compared to the battle of emotional hurt.
A sharp snap and the rustle of a few crispy leaves made my heart skip a beat. My body stood up stiffly, shocked. Quickly, I wiped the stains of sorrow off my cheeks. My face baked with embarrassment as Will walked towards me.
"That tree, the one you're standing next to... it's the one," he said laughing. I turned, confused by his comment.
"What?" I said, my voice still sopping with tears.
He scratched the back of his head, laughing bashfully out of embarrassment. "Me and Ben.... Uh. We used to pee on it all the time. Only because you're mum told us not to pee on trees. It became our inside joke to always pee on that tree."
I laughed through my stuffy nose. That was the first time I had laughed in 3 days. "That's disgusting."
"Well, we were young. We don't still do it," he laughed. His smile faded as he watched me wipe tears from my cheeks. "Alice," his voice was serious.
"Will, don't lecture me," I shook my head.
"I'm not going to. I just want to let you know something. Ben's heart is broken. He can't talk about you without his voice breaking. He loves you. I know you feel like you're losing him, but... he feels like he's losing you. Don't make him leave like this."
"Will, I don't know what to say to him. I don't, I'm sorry. I can't look at him, I can't talk to him... I can't!" my voice cracked.
"Stop it. Stop it," his voice rose.
"Stop what?!" I yelled. Why was I so angry?
"Stop being so selfish! This isn't all about you. Just stop and think. You think you ignoring Ben is making this better, but it's not. What if he left and what if he died."
I gasped in shock. My heart pounded fiercely.
"Well, what if that happened? You wouldn't be happy with the way you treated him in the little time he had left with you. Please, Alice. Don't treat him like this. Make him leave on good terms with you. Please. This is reality. Come to terms with it."
I looked at Will, tears burning my eyes. He walked towards me slowly and I ran into his arms. He was right... he was always right. This was reality. All the denying I had been doing was only making it worse. Every time I ran off and hid, I was playing hide and seek with the inevitability, and I couldn't hide any more. It was time for me to grow up. I wiped my tears and slowly let go of Will. He looked at me, resting his fingers under my chin.
"You're right," I said. "I've been acting stupid, petty and childish. I'm ready to face reality," I said.
He kissed my forehead, then took my hand. "Let's go then."
We walked hand and hand back to the house. As we walked in silence, I could make out a figure not too far off. It was Ben. I looked at Will and he nodded. Letting go of his hand I raced to Ben. When I finally reached him, I flung myself into his arms. He trembled, holding me tightly.
"I'm ready to communicate now," I whispered.
"That's my Alice," he whispered back.